17 Untruths Parents Believe About Non-Parents
By Elan Morgan on May 29, 2013
Bon Stewart being a giant baby
9. Non-parents get to drink alcohol whenever they want.
No, we don't. Some of us have jobs. Some of us have family obligations outside our own homes. Some of us, like me, are alcoholics who have to actively abstain and work at not doing that very thing every day. And some of us just aren't fond of the stuff.
10. Non-parents don't have to deal with gross bodily fluids.
This is planet earth, and we are human beings. The gross bodily functions of others affect a good number of us, whether we birthed the person experiencing them or not.
I grew up with an older brother with multiple special needs, and my mother also ran a daycare out of our home. I have dealt with the urine, poop, vomit, and semen (yes, even that) of more people both related to me and not than most parents I know. You can't hold this one over me.
11. Non-parents own nicer things than parents do.
This hearkens back to the old Non-Parents Have More Disposable Income argument, which is patently false.
All of my lovely chairs and sofas are draped in covers I bought through Amazon to hide coffee stains, cat puke, and previous ownership markings. My living room's a flea market waiting to happen.
12. Non-parents get to keep the friends that parents lose after they have children.
I hate to break it to you, but major life shifts change friendships whether they involve children or not. Try suddenly making a lot less or more money, moving to a new city or country, getting married, or, in my case, quitting drinking. All of these things can change the dynamics of your friendships and even lose you a whole social circle.
Friendship loss after a major life shift is not confined to those who procreate.
13. Non-parents don't have wrecked bodies like parents do after kids.
Oh, seriously now. Have you walked around out in public lately and taken a good look at humanity? We are, in general, kind of a wreck.
Also, forgive me if I snort at your insistence that it was only having children that destroyed your once gorgeous form and that non-parents don't understand what it is to have your body suddenly change. 1) You probably weren't as hot pre-baby as you thought you were, and 2) there are a number of things that wreck your body for you as life goes on. Cancer, addictions, and other health issues strike parents and non-parents alike, and they can make us all a little less bikini-confident.
The reasons behind your stretch marks and other changed parts may be different, but the outcomes aren't necessarily so unlike each other.
14. Non-parents feel so much more attractive than parents do.
Dammit. This is just another way I must be doing it wrong as a non-parent, because I have not been feeling that attractive since I had that minor bout with cancer. It kind of further destabilized what sense of body integrity I had managed to cobble together out of found string and white glue.
15. Non-parents have clean homes.
Ha! That's rich!
Oh, you cleaned your house before kids? Dammit. There I go doing it wrong, again.
16. Non-parents don't have to worry about anyone but themselves.
Ha! Again, that's rich!
We have ageing parents, nieces and nephews, dear friends, partners and spouses, pets, and other attachments, because, again, we are not like the Tin Man looking for our real hearts. We belong to entrenched communities to which we contribute deeply and meaningfully, even if that community doesn't wear a diaper and call us Mom.
17. Non-parents stay out until all hours.
While non-parents do have the greater freedom to stay out late and do things I've heard referred to as "clubbing", most of the people I know don't. Why? Because we are busy, and we have stuff to do, and we are tired, and most of us aren't 21 anymore.
If you're a parent, you might think this staying-out-all-night thing sounds like a happy idea, but, in reality, it's less adventurous and fun and more waiting to crawl into a warm bed and being irritated by drunk people.
You could do it, but, like most of us, you probably wouldn't want to most of the time, if ever. Isn't that what mommy blogging conferences are for, anyway?
From what I can tell, most parents miss the more care-free and spontaneous life of their early 20s before all the added responsibilities of adult life stepped in — related to finances, family, and ageing — to reshape and sometimes minimize their freedoms. I do, too, although, I will fully admit to the fact that I can still just step out my door right now and grab a sandwich at the shop across the street, and I love that, but I will not stand for being told that my not having children means my life is still pretty much equivalent to the chaotic and frivolous mess of some early 20-somethings.
When a parent sighs and says to a non-parent It must be so nice to be able to sleep in or I wish I could afford that thing you just got or You have no idea what my body looks like under this, [added for clarity: these are types of statements that cast judgement based on assumptions about the listener's life without children rather than simply being about the parent], it is beyond insulting. There are so many assumptions and prejudices wrapped up in such statements that unravelling them to explain just how much they have diminished a non-parent's life experience would take at least a book or two.
My usual response is to smile and say with faked humour "Well, that's what you think", because it is their choice to cut off connection with me, and I am too tired after 15 years of this to have to initiate several of these conversations a week with everyone from grocery clerks to close friends. It is their choice to tell me that I cannot fathom who they are, that my life experience cannot connect with theirs, that those who have similar outcomes due to their own major life shifts are somehow intrinsically blocked from that connection due to not having offspring. The assumption that my life is so easy that it would deny me the ability to understand another's experience tells me that the parent in question does not value my history or my experience. I am not valued or valuable.
Believe me, I sometimes wish all these assumptions about non-parents were true, because then I would be a wealthy, physically gorgeous, globe-trotting, sexual dynamo who had a clean house, great clothes, and was surrounded by all my old friends. This isn't how life goes for most of us, though, once we graduate from that magically unburdened post-high school youth we all imagine we came from. Take me, for example. I have weathered cancer, my husband's broken back, the loss of loved ones, addiction, depression and anxiety, and a few other hurdles. We all grow up, we change, and we experience things that are hard.
We may not be parents, but we are also not unburdened youth anymore, the ones we imagine as frivolous and selfish and disconnected, and I wish that the parents who make these assumptions about us would stop behaving as though we still are.
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